Assessing Collocational Competence: Insights Derived from Libyan Learners of English in an EFL Context

Aisha Ali Dukali


This paper aims to investigate the difficulties Libyan undergraduate university English major students have in the use of verb-noun and adjective-noun collocations by looking at their performance in free production. Furthermore, twelve verbs and twelve adjectives identified in this research were investigated in depth as part of their combinations. To achieve this aim, a 250-word academic writing task was used to collect data from fourth-year university students at Tripoli University. The data were analysed using AntConc 3.2.1w (Anthony, 2007). After extracting the learners’ collocations, four methods were used to determine the acceptability of learners’ collocations in terms of conforming to native-like use. They were: (1) the Oxford Collocations Dictionary (2009), (2) the online British National Corpus (3) consultations with two native speakers[1], and (4) the acceptability-of-collocations survey, which was used to triangulate the above three methods. Overall, the results from the academic writing data revealed that (1) verb-noun collocations were more difficult for the participants than adjective-noun collocations; and (2) the participants’ use of the twelve adjectives in adjective-noun collocations showed significantly more accuracy ratings compared to their use of the twelve verbs in verb-noun collocations.

[1] According to Crystal (1997), the term native-speaker is used in the linguistic field to refer to “someone for whom a particular LANGUAGE is a ‘native language’ (also called ‘first language’, ‘mother-tongue’)”. The implication is the acquisition of this language has taken place since childhood. Therefore, it can be safely asserted that a native speaker possesses the most reliable intuition and for that reason has the best judgement of how the language is used, making him/her the most trusted kind of informant.



verb-noun collocations; adjective-noun collocations; collocational errors

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ISSN 2045-4031. University of Central Lancashire 2010-2013.